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Sugar board member resigns amid importation mess

Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Sugar Regulatory Administration who is embroiled in the sugar importation controversy has quit his post due to “health reasons.”

In a letter addressed to Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez dated August 14, Roland Beltran said his resignation as the millers’ representative in SRA’s Sugar Regulatory Board is “without prejudice to any investigation that may be conducted in connection with the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4.”

Beltran is one of the signatories of the “illegal” sugar importation order, which would would allow the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar by the third quarter.

“In any event, let me interject at the outset that my vote therein was conditional ‘subject to compliance of the provisions of laws, rules and regulations, and the internal processes of SRA,’” Beltran said.

“The action is thus withdrawn and negated due to non-compliance of the conditions set forth therein,” he added.

The SRA uploaded on the morning of August 10 a copy of the order which was signed by the SRA board members, including Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who holds the agriculture department's portfolio for now, rejected the proposal. She also said that Sebastian was not authorized to sign the order.

Sebastian stepped down from his post on August 12.

Malacañang said an investigation into the unauthorized attempt to import sugar is underway.

Beltran also said in his resignation letter that he had already left the SRA as early as July 1 following the issuance of Memorandum Circular 1. The memo declared vacant certain posts in the executive department. Beltran said he had received an email from SRA on July 29 informing him that he was in a “holdover capacity.”

“I ignored this email. However, the same email was reiterated and resent on August 1, 2022 and thus reluctantly resumed my duties and responsibilities as such under pain of being accused of dereliction of duty,” he said.

In a YouTube vlog posted Sunday, Marcos said the country might import 150,000 metric tons of sugar in October should supplies dwindle. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from News5/Shyla Francisco

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

SUGAR REGULATORY ADMINISTRATION

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